Utility Contractor

NOV-DEC 2018

As the official magazine of NUCA, Utility Contractor presents the latest information affecting every aspect of the utility construction industry, including technological advancements, safety issues, legislative developments and instructional advice.

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70 Utility Contractor | November/December 2018 O SHA was created in 1970 and its clear and un- wavering mission for almost 50 years has been "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions." To put it simply, employers must provide every worker with a safe place to work. OSHA's mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and illnesses, and to protect workers from hazards. For example, when employees are working in a trench, the employer must comply with the Excavation Standard – Subpart P, which requires the employer to provide a trench protective system (shields, shoring, and/or proper shoring) and all other safety devices or equipment needed to make the trench safe and to ensure the workers' well-being. While this starts with OSHA compliance, compliance may not be enough. As I said before, it has been almost 50 years since the first OSHA standards were written. Even though many of them have been revised and updated, there is still more employers can do to improve safety within their companies. Compli- ance with OSHA regulations is just the beginning. Things have changed over the last five decades and many OSHA regulations have not been revised, and certain safety issues have yet to be regulated. Think about your processes for a minute: have new con- struction techniques, materials, and equipment been added to your operations? Has anyone in your company reviewed the manufacturer's safety recommendations for each new method used and all new equipment or materials that were recently added? Have workers who are implementing new techniques, working with new materials, or using new equipment been instructed how to proceed safely? Based on the above, ask yourself: Is your company re- ally in compliance. Your answer may be yes, but OSHA regulations do not specifically regulate all new materials or equipment. Let's not forget that OSHA standards include the General Duty Claus and they will turn to the manufacturer's safety recommendations to issue a general duty citation if workers are not following these recommendations. Although OSHA tries to keep up with all the changes that occur in the industry, that is nearly impossible because the creation of new regulations takes years. The burden falls upon the employer to ensure their employees are informed about safety hazards and procedures associated with new techniques, materials, and equipment. Compliance can get increasingly difficult as these new factors are added. And, as said above, every employer is responsible for worker safety and regulation or no, the employer must provide a safe place to work. Compliance Starts with Safety & Health Programs Before I list some OSHA recommendations for construc- tion safety and health programs, it's important to ensure that managers know the applicable rules and regulations. If man- agers (including foremen and supervisors) do not know the OSHA rules and regulations, employers cannot expect job- sites to be safe and in compliance. To help ensure compliance, employers should provide OSHA training for all managers and ensure that copies of the regulations are available. Managers should be instructed to review the regulations whenever they are not sure of what must be done to comply. Of course, managers should also be aware of the safety recommendations for new techniques, materials, and equipment, most of which will not be includ- ed in the OSHA standards. Elements of a Safety and Health Establishing an effective safety and health program for your company is one of the most effective ways to protect your business's most valuable assets – your workers. Managers and safety personnel should be aware of the rec- ognized practices for safety and health programs in construc- tion. The following are core program elements: Management Leadership • Commits to eliminating hazards and improving safety and health • Communicates commitment to workers • Sets program expectations and responsibilities • Establishes S&H goals and objectives • Provides adequate resources and support for the program • Sets a good example SAFETY MANAGEMENT Keeping Your Workers Safe: Is OSHA Compliance Enough?

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